As freelancers, a lot (well, actually, let’s be honest, ALL) of what we do requires a certain level of creativity. Whether you’re a writer, web designer, editor or graphic artist, there are varying degrees of creativity required to do what you do.
The issue arrives when the ‘muse’ leaves the house… or does it?
As most of you know, I’ve been writer for over three years now and the last 12 months of that I’ve been a self-published author. I’ve written 16+ books in this time and I can tell you, with hand on heart, that there were plenty of days where my muse was clearly on vacation.
There were days where what I wrote was complete and utter crap (in my mind!), but I kept on writing… I had to, otherwise deadlines would not be met.
I hear a lot of freelancers telling me that they just don’t ‘feel’ like doing their craft today, so they take a day off and then one day turns into two, then three and before you know it, you’re out of work, projects have been lost and freelancing relationships stretched.
All because they lacked the discipline to focus and get shiz done, no matter how they felt.
We are always creating, whether you think it’s good or not, can be the kicker. And the biggest part of the problem.
We are our biggest critics, constantly measuring and judging the quality of our craft, instead of just doing and refining further down the track.
Worrying about whether your last web design job was your best, and wondering how you’re gonna do any better, is definitely one way to get your muse to take a permanent vacation!
The further down this rabbit hole you go, the more you’ll start to believe that only some people are creative, while others are not, including yourself—and that in order to be creative, you need to have the muse with you at all times.
Here’s the thing. Who cares how creative you are? EVERYONE is creative, and while yes, I agree there are varying degrees of creativeness, if you try to quantify and qualify your own creativity every time you sit down to work, you’re going to slowly kill any hope of the awesomeness that’s inside you from coming out.
Do you want to be responsible for killing your muse?!
How to Keep Creativity Alive
If you want to keep your muse alive, or at least allow it to come out and have a look around, follow these ideas:
- Don't think about what you're doing, just sit down and do it. You can refine later. Stop the analysing already!
- Stick to a schedule. Sometimes just showing up is enough for your muse to appear too. But if you're not showing up, neither is your muse...
- Explore fresh and new ideas daily. That means reading, watching and learning, but not cat videos on YouTube, unless you're writing stuff for cats...
- Experiment with new ideas in your work, push boundaries. Don't let things get stale, think of new ways to approach what you do.
- Keep a little 'look book' of your favourite ideas, or things that you like that inspire you. When you're lacking ideas or motivation, use this to help bring you back.
- Change your environment. This is key if you're feeling stagnant. It's how I was able to write 7 books in 7 weeks.
The thing is, if you want to produce, you have to take action to produce. It's like any habit you're trying to build, you have to show up for anything to happen.
And yes, taking the odd day off here and there is completely fine, just don't fool yourself into believing it's gonna be ok if you're gone for 3+ days with no creation of anything.
Books don't get written without fingers hitting keys, or pen writing on paper, just as websites don't get designed without mouse movement and graphic placement. Show up, do something and then adjust as you need to.
It's really that simple.
Do you struggle to find your creative flow? Leave your thoughts below, share tips on how you stay in the zone!